A man pretending to be an American soldier has allegedly scammed a “well-educated” Brisbane woman out of $370,000.
After meeting on social media last October and beginning an online relationship, the woman sent Cosmos Emeh more than $200,000 after he told her a sob story relating to the loss of close family members, police said.
Emeh, 32, claimed to be deployed in Syria, but was in fact living in Brisbane on a student visa with his Australian partner at the time.
He later allegedly went to the 34-year-old victim’s house to take another $105,000, claiming he was a fixer for the soldier after he did not match the photos of her purported boyfriend.
“I would characterise this victim as a well-educated young person who has entered into an online relationship based on what she was told,” police investigator Vince Byrnes said.
The face-to-face meeting prompted the victim to go to police, who caught Emeh in a sting — involving the proposed handover of more money — on Thursday.
Emeh appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday, charged with fraud and attempted fraud.
His bail application was rejected on the grounds he was a risk of reoffending and failing to appear in court.
Through his defence lawyer, he denied having any contact with the woman prior to the sting but understood how the circumstances looked suspicious.
A sim card found in his possession that had been used in the scam was only sent to him a day ago, he claimed.
“It’s very uncommon in Australia or anywhere around the world to have an offender involved in this type of scam physically present themself for the collection of money,” Det Insp Byrnes said.
“It is a disturbing development and impinges on the personal safety of not only that victim, but as a development in the methodology (of scammers).
“These are constructed, well-versed scams demonstrating predatory behaviour based on avarice and greed.
“If you can’t control the nature of the interaction you have with that person online, that may be a red flag for you to be aware something may be amiss.”
The matter was adjourned to February 11.
The US military receives hundreds of complaints each month of purported soldiers scamming people of money, police said.